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This Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing is so fresh, bright, and easy to make! It’s a great way to use leftover or rotisserie chicken, and it’s on your table in just 20 minutes.

Love cabbage? Try my Best Coleslaw or Easy Egg Roll in a Bowl next.

close-up of Thai chicken salad in serving bowl

Why you’ll love it

If you enjoy Thai food as much as I do, you’ll devour this Thai-inspired chicken salad. The peanut, lime, and ginger dressing is incredible. Pair it with crunchy cabbage, veggies, and fresh herbs, and you have one flavor-packed salad! I like to eat it year-round since it has ingredients available all the time.

Even picky eaters will enjoy it. This simple Thai salad will be a hit with your entire family. I like to consider it a salad for people who don’t really like salad. It’s that good. It’s also packed with so much good stuff that it’s filling enough to eat as a meal on its own.

What you’ll need

For the salad

  • Coleslaw – I use a bagged coleslaw mix
  • Chicken – use leftover Shredded Cooked Chicken or rotisserie chicken
  • Scallions – they’ve got a fairly mild taste, but use red onion if you prefer
  • Red bell pepper – to add crunch and color
  • Cilantro and basil – I strongly recommend adding both these fresh herbs. They complement the dressing so well. If you can’t eat cilantro, sub for Italian parsley. Mint works too!
  • Peanuts – chopped peanuts top it all off

For the dressing

  • Peanut butter – I used a smooth creamy variety. I don’t recommend natural peanut butter for this recipe.
  • Soy sauce, lime juice, honey – this trio makes up the wonderful savory-tangy-sweet flavor combination!
  • Toasted sesame oil – it has a distinct flavor and is used in many Asian recipes. Don’t confuse it with the regular kind.
  • Garlic powder – for another savory layer. Use fresh minced garlic instead if you like.
  • Fresh ginger – it adds a punch of bold flavor
  • Water – depending on the brand of peanut butter and how thick you like the dressing, you may have to add more than suggested to thin out the dressing

Pro tips and troubleshooting

  • We’re using the toasted variety of sesame oil that’s darker in color and can be found in the Asian foods aisle along with soy sauce. Regular sesame oil has a lighter color and is often found with other cooking oils like olive oil, so don’t get that one.
  • I use one of my favorite kitchen tools to grate the ginger, my Microplane zester/grater. It’s so much easier to grate when it’s frozen! Just store ginger in a ZipLoc freezer bag so you always have some handy.
  • If you store your peanut butter in the fridge, make sure to let it warm up on the counter for a little before making the dressing so it’s not cold and hard and mixes properly. You can also add more water to thin it out to desired consistency.

How to make Thai chicken salad

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

whisking peanut dressing and adding cabbage to a large salad bowl

Add all the dressing ingredients to a bowl, and whisk until combined. Make sure to test it and adjust as necessary (more lime juice, honey, water, etc.) Prep all the salad ingredients, and place them in a large bowl.

adding peanut dressing to large bowl of thai chicken salad

Top the salad with the homemade peanut dressing, season with salt & pepper, and serve immediately.

Substitutions and variations

  • If you don’t want to buy pre-bagged coleslaw mix, you can cut up/shred your own cabbage and carrots. 
  • Cucumber would be a great addition to this salad! I’d cut it up in fairly small cubes. I’ve also seen people add papaya.
  • Want to make this a spicy Thai chicken salad? Try adding some crushed red pepper flakes, cut-up fresh Thai chilis, or some sriracha sauce to the dressing. A little heat would be fantastic here.

What to serve with this salad

  • This is quite a large salad. It serves four as an main dish on its own no problem, but you could easily feed up to six people depending on how much they eat or if you serve it with something else. Serve with a dinner roll or crusty bread, and you’re good.
  • If you want a riff on soup and salad, pair it with this light 15 Minute Thai Green Curry Soup.

Leftovers and storage

  • This salad does work for leftovers for a day or so just fine, but it may get a bit less crisp. Just store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Keep in mind leftovers aren’t quite as good as when freshly made, so you could certainly halve all the ingredients if you don’t want anything left over.
  • Or you could store the dressing in a jar in the fridge for up to a week and use when you’re ready!
easy Thai chicken salad in a serving bowl

Questions? Leave me a comment below! I’d love if you left a star rating and review. As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram so I can see your creations.

close-up of Thai chicken salad in serving bowl
4.67 from 45 votes

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

This Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing is so fresh, bright, and easy to make! It's a great way to use leftover or rotisserie chicken, and it's on your table in just 20 minutes.
Prep: 20 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound coleslaw mix
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken 
  • 1/4 cup scallions chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • Small handful fresh cilantro chopped (optional but recommended)
  • Small handful fresh basil sliced thin or torn (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter see note
  • 3 tablespoons water or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure sesame oil see note
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated 
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions 

  • Add the dressing ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and whisk together until smooth. Taste and adjust (e.g. add more lime juice or honey). If your dressing comes out really thick (peanut butter brands can vary), add even more water than suggested.
  • Prep all the salad ingredients and them add to a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and serve immediately. Season with salt & pepper as needed.

Notes

  • I don’t recommend using natural peanut butter for this recipe as the flavors and texture can be a bit off. I would use it sparingly and then taste and adjust the dressing as needed.
  • I use the sesame oil found in the Asian section of the grocery store. It’s got quite a strong/nutty flavor. It’s darker in color and sometimes you’ll find it labeled as toasted sesame oil. I just buy whichever brand is in stock.
  • You don’t need to add the cilantro or basil, but they definitely add extra flavor and freshness.
  • Helpful hint: It’s much easier to grate ginger when it’s frozen. I always keep some fresh ginger in my freezer for when I need it. It also helps reduce waste (I always seem to waste fresh ginger when I don’t use it in time!). 
  • Serves 4-6. You may want to halve it if you don’t want leftovers.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Nutrition

Calories: 251kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 434mg, Potassium: 423mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 819IU, Vitamin C: 55mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

Leave a star rating and comment below!

This recipe was originally published on June 16, 2017. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!


Hi! I’m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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120 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have never been much of a Thai chicken fan. I liked this one more than most. I was busy all day long doing cabinet painting in my kitchen. It was nice to put this together for my large family. Thanks for the idea.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, it’s a salad dressing, so that’s why I say taste & adjust in the recipe card… there’s no way to please 100% of people. 😉